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part. Before the old lady was an empty tumbler and a snuffbox. The lips of the students occasionally moved, though no sounds proceeded from them. Mrs. Spiffard, at this moment, leaned with her elbow on the table, shading her fine eyes with her right hand; the next she darted a look to the ceiling, her lips moved with greater energy, and her sable brows were almost brought in contact.
Emma Portland's countenance was as serene as the sky of an American October night, when every star shoots its light, and seems to smile on the face that is upturned to heaven. She was occupied by the mysteries of the needle, and seemed to approach the happy termination of the evening's labours, for she lifted the "fringed curtains" which had veiled her eyes, and glancing them rapidly upon her all-absorbed companions, let them fall again, as she inserted her needle into the green cloth of the table. She then, with both hands, raised and extended the garment she had been working on, and cried, with an air of satisfaction, as she exposed the glittering dress to view, "look, cousin! it is done!"
She received no answer. She turned her eyes from the gay and gorgeous robe to the person who was to wear it before de lighted thousands. That person was in tears. This is not only a picture of mimic life. The gay and the gorgeous is the mask of misery in "city, camp, and court."
Emma folded the stage-dress carefully, and removing it and the instruments of seamstress craft, lit a small brass chamberlamp, and withdrew, unnoticed, to pass a few minutes before sleep, in reading, thought, and prayer.
"It is all in
Mrs. Spiffard threw down the manuscript. vain. The words convey no meaning, while my mind is elsewhere, contemplating the past. Thinking of what must come. It shall come !"
"My dear, you took no supper. I will mix a little brandytoddy. Let Mr. Spiffard say what he will, you need it." And she left the table, and prepared two large tumblers of the beverage. Having left her spectacles on the table, she put a greater portion of brandy, by mistake. The unhappy daughter walked the floor; then sat down and attempted to read. The mother drank her part of the mixture, and placing the other tumbler near her daughter, sat down demurely to study, after mixing another glass for herself.
Again Mrs. Spiffard rose and walked the room. the silence as if unconscious of her mother's presence.
mine is no common lot! To lose one who adored me! A man like Trowbridge? Torn from me at such a moment—in such a manner !-driving me to-O! why did I live?-Why do I live?" She approached the table, seized the poisoned mixture-lifted the tumbler to her lips-suddenly put it down-and again walked the floor. Her agitation increasing every moment, she abruptly stopped and addressed her mother :
"But for you, madam, I should never have married this man. I have been a hypocrite. I have deceived him. We must be miserable. Trowbridge was my countryman! Shall I be tyrannized over-neglected-by a man I do not-yes, you know it-I do not love." She approached the table and seized the fatal vessel, and, as if possessed by a demon, emptied the poisoned draught to the dregs. "I will not be a slave to any man, I will not be a hypocrite."
"You need not be, my dear, your talents will enable you to live independant. The stage-your profession-."
"Talents! Cursed be my talents, and accursed the stage on which they have been exhibited. I did not choose this vile profession, which has led me to shame, and guilt, and misery! You taught me to tread the stage, and fitted me for the outcast thing I am. I have been shunned-am despised-no, no, no- She approached the table and seized the glass her mother had prepared for herself, more potent than the first; in fact, half brandy; and which she had been sipping to prolong enjoyment, and left almost full. In an instant the unhappy victim of ungoverned passion swallowed the whole.
"Bless me-why you have drank my toddy-," and she helped herself to another glass, bade the daughter good night, and went to bed.
Mrs. Spiffard now was braced to a pitch, little short of madness, and, with the looks and movements of a fury, she paced the room, revolving in her mind past scenes, and working herself up to a state of defiance and determined warfare. She at last heard her husband knock. She had been wishing for the moment when the thunder she had accumulated should be discharged on the tyrant; but instantly a revulsion of feelings took place that occasioned her to sink in a chair. Was it conscience? She felt that she had been wrong-doing for months and years, and was then unfit to see the man she had made her husband. All the proud feelings, and the train of proud thoughts, inspired by the forbidden draught, were gone; all the unnatural strength which the fell poison had imparted,
fled and left her: nerveless mists, and clouds, and darkness, gathered round her. Again her husband knocked, and she recollected that she was the only person up in the house-she started-she felt that her limbs were not at her perfect command, and the apartment swam and danced, as she with effort seized the chamber-light. The thought of her degraded condition flashed on her, accompanied by the perfect recollection of the last serious warning uttered by the man she was now
Her husband had parted from his mischievous tormentors in no very enviable mood. He took his leave with a forced nonchalance. "Pleasant dreams to you Spiff," said Hilson. Spiffard turned as he strided through the door-way, and as he saw every eye fixed on him (for they all waited his departure for a burst of merriment) he felt an undefinable suspicion which he would have been glad to have welcomed as reality: but it passed"good night," and moistening his lip, by passing his tongue rapidly over it, he strode from the meeting. Should he go home? Not yet. He had parted from his wife ungently. Her image recalled that of his mother. His mother in that form which had haunted his imagination through life; that form which was his evil genius. He turned into Broadway and sought the cold breezes with which the broad expanse of waters pour on that unrivalled public walk, the Battery.
"My life has been chequered and full of events to overflowing, yet but one hope did I ever entertain of rest or happiness. One hope suggested by one image. I had seen the misery consequent on marriage where the wife was autful but unendowed with mind. I knew I could only be happy or contented in the marriage state, and I sought a partner who had intelligence, genius, spirit. I found one."
Our hero was doomed to suffer, during the spring and summer of his life, from one cause. He had seen that his unhappy parent was devoid of intellectual powers or cultivation, and he attributed her fall to that alone. He had mistakenly concluded, that where a strong mind, wit, spirit, genius, and intelligence, resided, so sordid a vice as that he most abhorred could not have gained an entrance. He had seen that his theory was contradicted by the practice of the great tragedian; but this conviction came after he had become the admirer of the brilliant and spirited woman he had made his wife. He did not know that the want of good early education, of that education which teaches the love of God and our neighbour, (that enduring love which is founded on the contemplation of the Crea
tor's infinite goodness and mercy, filling the heart with thankfulness to him and charity to his creatures, and comprising the second command in the first)-he did not know that the want of this early education, which teaches our duty in society, and a knowledge of the organization of that society, of which we form a part, and on which our happiness depends― in short, he did not know, that without these fundamental principles of religion and morality, the most splendid talents availed nothing in the struggle man, or woman, has to maintain against passion within and temptation without. He proceeded soliloquizing almost audibly. "Yes! she has a quickness and strength of mind that I never expected to have found in woman! Could I have thought that such an one had yielded to the same demon who had poisoned my father's days! And for her sake I am now engaged in what may terminate in violence! And she-perhaps-no-no-after what has passed it is impossible. I will go home-I was too harsh-I will say so-I will not press my pillow without forgiving and forgiveness-Forgiveness!-As we forgive.-She has probably been unhappy all day, and now waits for me in anxiety and tears." He had turned his steps homeward at the first thought of reconciliation, and now stalked along with more than usual length of stride. He reached the door and knocked. The interval between his first and second knocking was filled by thoughts varying so quickly, that to attempt to fix them here would be to chain the words; but regret for the harshness of his former expostulations and tenderness towards his wife preponderated. She opened the door, and the light she held in her hand displayed, as in the noon-day sun, her face, and the terrible realities therein written. She smiled-but such a smile! She attempted to say, "I am glad you have come”but her tongue-no! the picture is too horribly disgusting-let the consequences suggest it to the reader's imagination.
The whole truth flashed upon the unhappy husband, and he stood a moment motionless. The thought passed through his mind of turning from the door." Then I must account for my conduct to my friends-they will attribute it to the approaching meeting." He passed on in silence, leaving his wife at the door. He entered the dining-room, and saw the disordered appearance of the table; the manuscript, tumbler, extinguished lamps, spectacles left behind by the mother, were seen by the glimmering light which the wife held in one hand, while with the other she fruitlessly endeavoured to lock and bolt the street-door; willingly protracting the absence from her husband.
Reason, so cruelly banished, returned with a whip of scorpions brandished aloft and threatening destruction. Conscience frowned with the aspect of Medusa. The torpor of the senses gave way rapidly, and the truth appearing through the mist of intoxication, was discoloured and distorted, and exaggerated into monstrous forms that cried, " despair."
"She had bolted the street-door, and could no longer defer the interview she dreaded. She came into the dining-room rigidly bracing her limbs to a steadiness they refused; the lamp she bore threw its glare over her features; an effort at counterpoise partly succeeded as she lifted her sight to the figure of her husband, who had seated himself without taking off his hat, and resting his hands on his cane, fixed his piercing and projecting eyes upon her face with an intentness that seemed to her supernatural. She again attempted to speak and to smile-but the mental powers were restored before the physical-the smile was ghastly-the sound of the voice was discordant. "I am glad you have come-I-" At that moment the comb intended to ornament and support her massive hair, and which had been previously displaced without her consciousness, fell on the floor, and her thick, disordered, unseemly locks rushed over her neck and face, adding a wildness to the features that may be pictured by the imaginative, but cannot be described.
Spiffard had collected his discomfited thoughts and brought them so far into subordination, that his mind was made up for the exigence of the moment. He rose from his seat, took up the fallen comb which the unhappy woman was endeavouring to recover, but which, as her desheveled hair streamed over her eyes by the action of bending to the floor, she could not He took the lamp from her hand, and placed the comb deliberately in it. He threw aside his cane, and taking her by the unoccupied hand led her silently to her chamber; the unhappy woman suffering herself to be assisted, and seeming utterly abandoned to despair.
Spiffard did not go beyond the door of the chamber; but, having placed her within, he put the lamp in her cold hand, and, in the act of retiring, stept back from her, at the same time taking hold of the door, and gently drawing it between his wife and himself, showed his intention to depart.
A terrible thought presented itself to the miserable woman. She bent her eyes upon her husband, all their brilliancy more than restored, while she said, in a faltering tone, “are you going?"